Good article Clark ...
Sorry, but Carroll makes some of the worst third and one calls I have ever seen ... The Seahawks were lucky to win.
Super Bowl losses are tough on Super Bowl losers, and I’m not talking about about the game. I’m talking about the season that follows.
With exception (Seattle in 2014 and the Patriots in 2018), Super Bowl losers rarely return to the game the following season. In fact, it’s not unusual for them not to return to the playoffs, period, and I offer the 2016 Carolina Panthers (6-10) and 2019 Los Angeles Rams (9-7) as recent examples.
Now we may have to include this year's San Francisco 49ers. I mean, look what happened Sunday. On an afternoon where stars throughout the NFL bowed out with injuries, the 49ers subtracted so many key players I question what's in store for them this season.
I know, maybe that's premature. But look what happened. They lost defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Soloman Thomas, running backs Raheem Mostart and Tevin Coleman and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from a lineup already missing starters George Kittle, Richard Sherman and Dee Ford.
That's more than a problem, people. It may be an obstacle too big to overcome.
Bosa could be lost for the season with a torn ACL, and Garoppolo has a high-ankle sprain that will sideline him indefinitely. I don’t need to remind you how valuable those two are to the 49ers’ success. Bosa was the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Garoppolo is 20-6 as a starter with the 49ers (22-6 overall) and had the team in Super Bowl LIV.
So, in one afternoon, the 49ers subtracted four starters in addition to the three already missing, and let’s be honest: I don’t know how they survive in a division that includes the Rams (2-0), the Cards (2-0) and the Seahawks (2-0) with a depleted cast ... but especially without Garoppolo.
He didn’t play complete seasons in 2017-18, and they were 10-22. Then he suits up for every game in 2019 and they reach the Super Bowl. Connect the dots.
Granted, we're only two games in, and help will come from the schedule. The 49ers' next three opponents (the Giants, the Eagles and the Dolphins) are a combined 0-6. But that Giants’ game? It’s on the same field (MetLife Stadium) where the turf may have played a role in Sunday’s injuries.
“That’s as many knee injuries and ankle stuff of people getting caught on the turf as I have ever been a part of,” said 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan. “From what I saw, the other team (the Jets) did, too. I know our players talked about it the entire game; just how sticky the turf was.
“It was something our guys were concerned about right away. And the results definitely made that stronger. Unfortunately, it’s a place we have to go back to next week.”
Good luck. They're going to need it.
SUNDAY SCHOOL; FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
Reports of Tom Brady’s demise are, um, premature. Stop if you’ve heard this before. After one game … one loss … Brady haters said the QB was finished, with one report claiming the Bucs experiencing “buyer’s remorse” for adding him. Worse, his own coach (Bruce Arians) seemed to be calling him out after last weekend. Sorry, wrong number, guys. Brady did what he had to Sunday to win, completing 15 of 20 in the first half for nearly 200 yards. More important, he won. OK, so it’s the Panthers. Doesn’t matter. A win is a win is a win, and why is anyone surprised? Brady has never started a season 0-2.
Josh Allen has arrived. Maybe it’s the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Maybe it’s just another year’s experience. Whatever, the Buffalo quarterback is making the throws he did not this time a year ago. He had his first career 300-yard performance last weekend (312). Now, he has his first 400-yard game, with four TDs. Add it up, and you have a quarterback with six TDs, no interceptions and a pass rating of 122.9. Better yet, over his last 14 regular-season starts, Allen is 9-5, with 23 TD passes and three interceptions. The Bills are legit, and they’re the team to challenge New England in the AFC East.
Cam Newton looks like a Comeback Player of the Year waiting to happen. Talk about a challenge. It wasn't just that he was coming off a career-threatening injury; it was that nobody but New England wanted him and, well, he had to replace Tom Brady, too. No problem. Newton said he didn't have butterflies; he'd give them. And he has, with Sunday night's game in Seattle the latest evidence. All he did was complete 30 passes, throw for 397 yards and one TD, run for two more scores and take the game to the wire before being stopped just short of the goal line. Prior to the season, Newton said he and the Patriots were "a match made in heaven." He might be right.
Nobody touches Green Bay in the NFC North … again. Barring an injury to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers lap the field. Yeah, I know, Chicago is tied with the Pack at 2-0, but c’mon, people. Aaron Rodgers vs. Mitch Trubisky? Checkmate. Minnesota should be the team to push Green Bay, but the Vikings (0-2) don’t have a chance unless they start playing offense. Plus, they got drilled by Green Bay a week ago. "Right now," said Vikings' coach Mike Zimmer, "we're not good at anything."
Kyler Murray will be in the MVP mix. Book it. If he’s not hurt, he gets votes. Reminiscent of Lamar Jackson as a dual threat QB, and he pulled every MVP vote a year ago. Murray is in his second year, and that's a good omen. Patrick Mahomes won the league MVP when he was a second-year pro. Same with Lamar Jackson. Could it be déjà vu all over again? Stay tuned.
THIRD AND 15
1. Don’t tell me the NFL is bigger than COVID-19. So no players have tested positive for the virus … yet … but Washington owner Dan Snyder and his wife are in quarantine, and there was a report that Al Riveron, the league’s senior VP of officiating, missed Week One with the virus. Can’t wait for the NFL to launch its contact tracing inquiry.
2. Not sure whom I feel worse for: Jets’ fans or Giants’ fans. Both teams are 0-2 and headed for life support. But the Giants just lost Saquon Barkley to a reported torn ACL, and the Jets haven’t lost Adam Gase.
3. After blowing another 20-point lead Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said “there’s a lesson to be learned.” One problem: He’s the one who must learn it. He’s 24-26 since that historic meltdown in Super Bowl LI, and after Sunday’s collapse you get the feeling that no lead is safe with this guy. As The Athletic’s Jeff Duncan put it, “29-10 is the new 28-3.”
4. Hard to believe but … this is the first time in Matt Ryan’s 13-year career he started 0-2. Of course, don’t blame Ryan. He threw four touchdown passes and put 39 points on the board. His only mistake: Not joining the Hands Team for that onside kick.
5. Defense isn’t the only thing missing in Philadelphia. Fans are, too. Good thing for the Eagles. And Santa.
6. Kirk Cousins’ passer rating Sunday: 15.9. Honest. In the first halves of the first two games, Cousins was 9 of 22 for 113 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Not sure what he needs more: Stefon Diggs or an alarm clock.
7. No reason for Vikings’ offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to address the media this week. Just recycle last week’s quotes when he called the offensive play “ugly.” The Vikings have been outscored 37-13 in the first half this season.
8. Look for Broncos’ coach Vic Fangio to get a memo this week from the league office, telling him to get a clue and WEAR THE DAMN FACE MASK.
9. Bad weekend for Detroit fans: Ron Gardenhire retires, and Matt Patricia does not.
10. Houston, you have a problem: The schedule. The Texans lost to Kansas City a week ago. They lost to Baltimore Sunday. Now they play unbeaten Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. That’s a possible 0-3, people, and trouble when you share a division with Tennessee. One reason for hope: Houston started 0-2 in 2015 and 2018 and still made the playoffs.
11. It figures that it’s Tampa Bay that sidelines Christian McCaffrey with an ankle injury. Nobody is tougher on Run CMC. A year ago, McCaffrey had 68 yards rushing on 38 carries in two games vs. the Bucs and averaged 55 yards from scrimmage. He averaged 163 vs. the rest of the schedule. Now this.
12. Can we just fast-forward the calendar to next Monday? It’s Kansas City at Baltimore, and it’s more than the two best teams in the league. Or the two best quarterbacks in the game. It’s the two best kickers in the game, too. Justin Tucker vs. Harrison Butker. Who ya got?
13. The best protection for Aaron Rodgers isn’t in front of him. It’s behind. A legit rushing attack – OK, Aaron Jones -- helped push the Packers to 13-3 a year ago. Now look what it’s done in two games. Jones already has four TDs, and Rodgers looks like he’ll be an MVP factor. You can protect a QB with an offensive line, and you can protect him with a running game. Green Bay is doing both. The Packers have run for 417 yards this season – including 259 Sunday – on 67 carries, an average of 6.2 yards per try.
14. Memo to Mike McCarthy: Quit gambling. In two games, he’s passed on a game-tying field goal on fourth-and-3 and tried two fake punts. All failed.
15. To channel Denny Green … rookie quarterback Justin Herbert is who the Chargers thought he was. I know, he lost his pro debut. So what? He showed the poise and accuracy that made him the Bolts’ first pick of the 2020 draft, and he came this close to outdueling Patrick Mahomes. Herbert started only because veteran Tyrod Taylor was unavailable, and Chargers’ coach Anthony Lynn said if Taylor’s “100 percent ready to go, he’s our starter.” Except, according to Lynn, Taylor was taken to a local hospital after complaining of chest pains. My guess? Herbert doesn’t sit down.
STAT THAT MAY ONLY INTEREST ME
Congratulations, Matt Patricia. Detroit just became the first team in league history to lose four straight where they had double-digit leads. The Lions have now lost 11 consecutive games, their most since dropping 19 straight in 2007-09.
STAT THAT MAY ONLY INTEREST YOU
According to EliasSportsBureau, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes has won an NFL-quarterback record six consecutive games, including the playoffs, when trailing by double digits.
AND ONE THAT MAY INTEREST BOTH OF US
Atlanta produced 39 points with zero turnovers in its loss to Dallas. According to Elias, since 1933 teams that put up 39 points without a turnover were 440-0. Then along came the Falcons.
SUNDAY’S GOLD JACKET QUOTES
“I’m pissed right now. That s**t is no fun, going out there and getting your ass beat.” – New York Jets’ coach Adam Gase.
“@nfl fix this trash metlife turf. 2020 is so wack.” – 49ers’ defensive end Ark Amstead tweet.
SUNDAY’S GOLD JACKET WINNERS
(tie). Seattle QB Russell Wilson. New England coach Bill Belichick last week called him "underrated," saying, "I really don't see anyone better than this player." He may be right. In two games, Wilson has thrown for 610 yards, with nine TD passes, 11 incompletions, one interception and a 143.1 rating. When asked last week if he thought he was the league's top quarterback, he didn't back down. "I believe so, without a doubt," Wilson told Dan Patrick. He'll get no argument from New England. Last year's No. 1-ranked defense was shredded for five Wilson touchdown passes and 35 points, Wilson's third defeat of the Pats in four tries.
(tie) Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill. Now you know why the Titans signed him to a four-year, $118-million contract extension. The guy is 11-4 with them (including the playoffs), led the league last year with a 117.5 passer rating and is 2-0 this season, with six TDs (including four Sunday), no picks and a 120.7 rating. I must admit I had my reservations, but rewind the videotape to his second-half TD pass to Adam Humphries, and you find Tannehill releasing the ball just before he gets sand-blasted by an onrushing defender. The ball hits Humphries in stride. A lot of quarterback can’t … or won’t … make that throw. Tannehill did. And that’s what makes him valuable … or invaluable to the Titans. They don’t have to rely on Derrick Henry. They can win with their quarterback … and just did. It was the 10th straight game Tannehill has thrown two or more TD passes in a game and the first time since 2008 the Titans started 2-0.
Great article Clark
Thanks and ... great to hear from you. Appreciate the note.
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